Letters Jan. 2007 II



Solar Powered Prayers


Reader: I learned that afternoon is opportune for prayer…is that correct? Something to do with the sun’s rays?

Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim: My long-time friend Rabbi Kaplan taught me a Talmudic lesson 20 years ago. Talmud Sabbath (118b) teaches one should pray with the “redness” of the sun, i.e., the rising and setting of the sun which is red at those times (ibid, Rashi). Unlike what was suggested by the reader last week, that Mincha holds some greater status…the sun’s rising is equally opportune for prayer. But what role does a solar phenomenon play in prayer? Why is praying at sunrise and sunset more preferable than any other time?

The Talmud asks what source teaches this lesson, and cites Psalm 72: “They shall fear you with the sun and before the moon for all generations”. (Verse 5) Kind David stated this in connection with his son King Solomon, that he might direct the nation’s fear towards God “always”, i.e., before the sun and moon which stand for all times. That is the literal meaning of the verse. The Rabbis then use this verse to underscore an additional concept, that greater “fear” of God exists when prayer is aligned with the sunrise and sunset. The term “fear” in this verse is correlated with prayer.

I believe the concept to be that in as much as prayer is “fear of God” – i.e., that we fear Him and no other – we enhance our fear of God when we align it with one of His wondrous acts: sunrise and sunset. These two daily “events” are just that: amazing events. While imbued with the awe of such great solar phenomena, our attitude in prayer is all the more enhanced. The Rabbis taught that when performing a command, enhancement of our emotional state through endorsed actions is proper. Thus, if one feels elated due to alcohol, regardless, he may not use it to enhance his prayers. But as a verse exists that teaches the praying with the sun, such an act is thereby endorsed as a Torah action, and not a subjective whim.

As we pray with the events of sunrise and sunset, our intellectual relationship to God is now accompanied by an emotional awe. The total person is now involved in service of God, as the Shima states, “Love your God with all your heart”. The term “all” refers to both parts of the heart: intelligence and emotion. (Rashi)




Noachides and Torah

In reference to your current article titled “Gentiles and Torah Study” I would like to comment that not only are observant Noachides allowed to study the Torah but Orthodox Jewish Rabbi’s are responsible for teaching them. Not only are there 7 laws but there are at least 66 other laws of the 613 Mitzvoth that an observant Noahide must keep. Over the years many Orthodox Rabbis have been responsible for my Noahide education and all of them seem to have a different interpretation of the Rambam’s (of blessed memory) view on the 7 Noahide Laws. I have been taught that more than 90 % of the written Torah and passages relating to the 7 laws in the Talmud may be studied for the purpose of making the world better and ultimately for assuring a place in the Next World.

The prohibitions I have been taught are that a Noachide is forbidden to celebrate Shabbat in the ways that a Jew was commanded by Hashem. This includes most festivals. Also forbidden to a Noahide is the wearing of phylacteries or trying to pass himself off as Jewish. 

I would like to advise you, if I may, that many of your subscribers are not Jewish. The people of the nations are very hungry for the spirituality Mesora.org provides. Please don’t discourage us in our journey to be worthy of the world to come.



Mark A. Shaw


Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim: Mark, we are in agreement. My article last week addressed your fact, that Noachides may learn what pertains to them. In no way do I seek to limit the most prized activity of Torah study, for any individual. I actually give a class each Sunday for Noachides. As I mentioned many times, there is no difference of design or potential of a Jew or Gentile. The difference is in God’s will as pertains to the actions He demands of each. And in doing so, God does not limit the perfection reachable by a Noachide. But to be honest, a Noachide is limited in his areas of study, for the reasons mentioned in my article. Please refer to the Talmudic and Maimonidean sources again.







God’s Kindness

Reader: Dear Rabbi: In our daily weekday Ashrei prayers, letter lamid, we are commanded to inform human beings of His mighty deeds. With this in mind, I would like to inform your readers of one of Hashem’s mighty deeds, which I experienced.

About ten years ago, while coming home from work on Forty-seventh Street, the snowstorm got worse. The Monsey bus left the corner of fifth avenue and Forty-seventh Street right on time, at five fifteen, and then made it to the Port Authority terminal one hour later.

Everyone was aware of this February storm, for the severe weather reports were predicting two to three feet of snow. Everyone was probably counting on the storms full fury to hit after they returned home. I think everyone picked this bus at the same time with this thought in mind.

I was one of the first passengers on board and found a seat near the rear of the bus. As the bus trudged it’s way toward the Lincoln Tunnel more and more people packed their way in. There must have been seventy-five people or more, crammed into our bus. I could no longer see the front of the bus, however, having a window seat enabled me to see the fluffy snow on the sidewalk getting deeper and deeper.

Impatient voices were complaining aloud, “What, we didn’t get to the tunnel yet?” “At this rate, we will never get through to the New Jersey turnpike, and then, it might not even be drivable!”

It was so crowded and stuffy, plus the stench of wet overcoats, made my mind ask,” What am I doing here? Do I need this? I should just vault out of this bus and take my chances of getting home with a later bus, or even try hitchhiking. I could also get off now and treat myself to a delicious Chinese meal at Moshe Peking only three blocks away.”

Then somehow, these thoughts became a reality! At that moment, I said to myself, “Do it! Why not?” People were giving me strange looks as I pushed and shoved my way towards the front door. “Open the door!” I told the driver. “Go ahead, you must be a little mashuga!” (I didn’t even ask him for a refund.)

As I stepped down into the foot deep snow I took a deep delicious breath. “What a difference! Boy, am I smart! People have to be crazy to stay in an environment like that,” I thought. “Moshe Peking, here I come!”

After a short fifteen minute walk, (I really had an appetite now!), I approached Moshe Peking. “ Maybe it isn’t open. Maybe they closed early because of the storm.” Wrong! It was open, and I was happily greeted by, not one, but two maitre Ds, but why? Then I discovered the answer. The restaurant was empty! The snowstorm turned everyone away, and I was the only live one. Instead of being served by one waiter, three waiters were attending to my requests!

With compassion, my thoughts went back to my neighbors, who probably were still on the bus. I felt bad for them and their plight. I pictured them slowly inching their way home to Monsey. They should have been sitting around me, feasting on sweet and sour glazed chicken. Too bad they didn’t have my saychel!

I looked at my watch, and couldn’t believe it was seven fifteen. The last bus stops at seven thirty, so I paid my bill and zipped out of Moshe Peking towards the Port Authority terminal. As I approached the terminal, I saw from a distance, what seemed to be a Chassidishe young man standing at the bus stop.

This section of the terminal is a very dangerous place. It is outside the doors, and every low type of character hangs around this spot. Having taken the bus from this location before, I have witnessed drug dealers, homeless, drunks, panhandlers, and bums hanging around. In addition, the area was completely deserted because of the storm. This young man was waiting in a very bad place.

I walked up to him, and stood no more than two feet away. (This would show anyone with bad intentions that he was with me.) I began a conversation. I asked this young man if he was waiting for the Monsey bus. (He couldn’t have been older than fourteen years). We both were holding the collars of our overcoats close to our necks because it was so cold and snowing. He finally answered me in a shaky voice. “I’m trying to get home to Monsey, but there hasn’t been a bus here for the last hour. Are you going to Monsey?” [Having six sons of my own, (Baruch Hashem!) I recognized a brother Jews’ child in distress, and decided to take him under my protection.]

I told him I was going to Monsey and we should wait here for another fifteen minutes. “If the Monsey bus doesn’t come, we can go upstairs, into the terminal, and take the Red and Tan Bus Line.” During the next fifteen minutes I was able to realize that this young man was, nebbech, slow. He also showed me his bus ticket, and asked me if the other bus company would honor it. “My father gave me only this ticket, no money.” Seeing that he was scared and shook-up, I immediately put his mind to rest by telling him, “Don’t worry! You are with me! I will buy you your ticket, and I will take you home to Monsey!”

I let him sit next to the window, and now in a warm bus his mood changed, showing his calmness and a sweet smile.

The snow really came down on Monsey. He followed me to my car in the parking lot, got in, and proceeded to show me where he lived. As we drove into his street I recognized some of my friends’ houses. And then, to my amazement, he pointed to my friend Hershel’s house, as his! This young man was my friend Hershel’s son! Hershel waved, a thank you wave, as I pulled away.


Why did Hashem choose me, out of all the other people on the bus? I’m sure there were others, who were aware of Moshe Peking. I’m sure they were as uncomfortable as me, all squashed up. Maybe I was more logical, or loved Chinese food more than anyone else. Maybe my middos of rachmonos was needed to meet the situation. Either way, one thing became very apparent to me the following day. I wasn’t so smart as I originally concluded. As I recalled the experience and satisfaction with myself, while sitting and eating in Moshe Peking, I had no thought at all, that Hashem’s kindness and great deeds were taking place.

This revelation thoroughly shocked my soul! It showed me how important this young Chassid’s safety
was, and how Hashem protects the needy of his chosen people. What evil was out there? What evil, did Hashem go to such great lengths to prevent from happening?

This experience was very important. It has helped me recognize signs of Hashem’s wisdom, and at the
same time two Jewish souls came out of a crisis, ahead. It has enabled me to draw near and come close to G-d. 


You may be wondering why I waited ten years to tell you about this event. Last week I bumped into my friend Hershel, and he told me to give him a MAZEL TOV, because his son just went under the Chuppah!


Of course, as Prophecy no longer exists, we have no absolute knowledge when God is acting, unless we witness a miracle, which is not the case here. But we also cannot say with absolute knowledge that God was NOT involved in this case. If He was, this is yet another kindness and great deed from Hashem!

-The Monsey Maggid 






Letter from the North

Friends, As much as we would like to sink into the mindless comfort of our untruthful media reporting from our lying politicians, we who love Israel, and of course those who actually live here and whose lives are at stake, prefer to hear the unvarnished truth from untainted sources who use their eyes to see and brains to figure things out they are not spoon-fed by spin-masters. I’m one of them.

Another is my friend up north Devora Evgi. Below, her take on the border with Lebanon.
Naomi Ragen

From: Devora Evgi
Sent: 08 January, 2007 8:11 AM
To: Naomi Ragen
Subject: Their flag is still there... More bombs bursting in air?

Hi Naomi,

It appears as though the Hizbollah is preparing for Round 2. Up our way (Moshav Avivim), the entire border is now dotted with Hizbollah flags and moving figures. There is not a single Lebanese army flag in sight. In my opinion, this is NOT okay. A flag is not only a symbol that represents concepts and ideals, but also used to stake
claims. Does this mean that the Hizbollah have reclaimed Southern Lebanon? While driving home from work one evening, will I encounter terrorists who have infiltrated through tunnels they have dug under the border-underneath the noses of the UN base that lies opposite my house?

For years these UN troops have been observers. They observed the way the Hizbollah prepared for the last war and armed themselves to the teeth, so why should anything be different now? And BTW, where IS the Lebanese army that was supposed to keep the border clean? Perhaps it was largely comprised of Hizbollahs in disguise? Oops, sorry. If I don’t keep quiet we’ll never have peace with Syria...

Looks as though we can all stay tuned to the same channel and same program for a repeat broadcast of the last war, coming soon to a neighborhood near you...


Devora Evgi, Moshav Avivim